Excellence on Ice Feature
Defining the Word "Total"

By Kent McDill

June 5, 2017
   In The Loop Extended Articles

They call it “The Rinx Total Skating Program” and they mean every word.

The Rinx is the well-established collection of ice surfaces centered around the hamlet (an actual hamlet) of Hauppauge, N.Y. which sits between the Long Island towns of Islip and Smithtown.

Operating two outdoor rinks in the winter months in Port Jefferson and Wyandanch Village to go with the two indoor ice sheets at the central location in Hidden Park and the third sheet at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in Bethpage, N.Y., The Rinx covers the figure skating needs of the area.

When a child comes to The Rinx to begin his or her skating experience, they join the Total Skating Program, which allows them to go exactly as far as their desire takes them.

“We start with the Learn to Skate USA classes, introducing skating to the skaters of all ages, and then we transition them to either the USA Hockey program or our figure skating programs,” said Director of Skating Cathryn Schwab. “They then go into bridge programs, including classes for the skaters who are starting to compete, and they work with private lesson coaching and off-ice programs, which include guest coaches who come in to help.

“We have a people-first philosophy,” Schwab said. “We want to make sure people feel very welcome and feel the family environment when they walk in the door. We are very organized, so when you walk in and start to participate you see the organization on the ice and off. There is nothing more disheartening than walking and not knowing where you are going or what is going on. We try to make sure, whether it is for a competition or on our general classes, that everything is prepared ahead of time, everybody on staff knows what to expect and what we are doing and we try to make sure we have all hands on deck to answer any questions as they arise.”

The appeal of The Rinx is in the thinking, which, as Schwab defines it, is like a woman’s work: it is never done.
“We find solutions that are customer-centric, and we try to be aware that we want to develop programs that cater to our local area and community,” Schwab said.

It is that way of thinking which earned The Rinx the PSA Fritz Dietl award in 2014 for rink management.

No well-run ice facility is ever settled; there is always the need for repair and/or upgrades. The Rinx at Hauppauge is getting an off-ice jump harness to benefit skater jumps for those working on attaining their triples.

The Rinx works with 2,200 students this year (the number climbs to 3,000 in Olympic years) and the two indoor locations and two outdoor rinks are used by 50 coaches.

All three indoor sheets are NHL-sized, which benefits the complicated ice-sharing figure skaters with the Stony Brook University hockey team, which this year reached the elite eight of the American Collegiate Hockey Association national tournament. They were national runners-up in 2015.

A fair share of successful competitors have either trained exclusively at The Rinx or used it as an occasional hub. The pair team of Darbie Burke and Griffin Schwab, Cathryn’s son, were national medalists at the juvenile intermediate level and competed at the national level. Cathryn Schwab noted that Emily and Sarah Hughes used The Rinx as their secondary home early in their careers as well.

“But at the end of the day, our mission is to provide an environment that fosters true champion qualities in each of our athletes, whether they eventually end up on an Olympic team or end up learning life lessons that will benefit them in their future endeavors.” Schwab said.